All posts by MartySalii

Julia – Daughter


Daughter of Augustus
Wife of Agrippa
Mother of Gaius & Lucius

Julia was the only child of Augustus and his first wife, Scribonia. She was born in 39 BC and initially was the source of great enjoyment and pride to her father. After a fairly normal childhood, Julia was married toMarcus Claudius Marcellus in 25 BC. Unfortunately, Marcellus died two years later in 23 BC. Augustus then married her for political purposes to his good friend Agrippa in 21 BC with whom she bore five children – Gaius, Lucius, Agrippa Postumous, Julia the younger and the notable Agrippina, who would ultimately bare the future Emperor Caligula.

Following the death of her second husband, Agrippa, Augustus once again married her off in 11 BC for political purposes but this time to the son of his wife Livia, the future Emperor Tiberius. While according to Seutonius, Julia had long been lusting after Tiberius, the feeling was not mutual. Tiberius was ordered to divorce his wife Vipsania, to whom he was truly devoted. The union turned from cold to outright hostile following the stillborn birth of a child at Aquileia. Tiberius refused to have anything to do with her and in 6 BC chose to retire to Rhodes.

While Julia had a reputation for good humor and kindness, she also apparently had quite a lust for sexual exploits. Her adulteries were so numerous that hardly anyone in Rome was unaware of her new found reputation, with the exception of her father Augustus. Despite the widespread rumors, Augustus found it impossible to believe that his daughter would engage in such behaviour. Finally, in 2 BC, Augustus became convinced by an investigation which uncovered her affairs with quite a large group of men including tribunes and Julius Antonius, one of the sons of Marc Antony.

Julia quickly found herself the center of one of the greatest scandals in Rome history, perhaps only second to that of Messalina, wife of Claudius.

Augustus banished her to the island of Pandateria with her mother Scribonia. Julia managed to survive for several years until 3 AD when Augustus transferred her to Rhegium due to a public outcry. Augustus was so disappointed in her that he prescribed in his will that upon her death, she was not to be buried in his mausoleum. When Tiberius came to power, he put a stop to all comforts and gifts. She died of exhaustion and malnutrition in late 14 AD.

Monetary System


finest known silver denarius Augustus/Julia

Mints: Alexandria, Antioch, Arelate, Constantinople, Cyzicus, Heraclea, London, Lugdunum, Nicomedia, Rome, Siscia, Sirmium, Thessalonica, Ticinum, Treveri

Obverse Legends:



AR Denarius [with Augustus (3.54 grams)]


                AE19  Mysia  w/Livia

Livia- Wife


wife of Augustus
mother of Tiberius & the nation
born 57 BC – died 29 AD at the age of 86

Livia Drusilla was a woman of renowned beauty in her day. Livia was the daughter of a nobleman named Marcus Livius Drusus Claudius. She was at first married to Tiberius Claudius Nero who supported the assassins of Julius Caesar. Augustus apparently compelled her husband to divorce her and she was immediately married to Augustus in January of 38 BC before her second son Drusus was even born. Livia had two children from her first marriage, Tiberius and Nero Claudius Drusus. She never bore any children with Augustus.

According to Tacitus, Livia won a reputation for generosity, and encouraged Augustus to show clemency towards his opponents. She was also quite tolerant of his numerous infidelities. Livia appears to have been loyal to Augustus seeking the pleasures of power rather than those of the flesh.

Livia, however, comes to us through history with a reputation of a secretive and cunning woman. Livia was suspected of murder and intrigue in pursuit of her obsession of establishing a “Claudian” dynasty. She was accused by historians of procuring the deaths of Marcellus, Gaius and Lucius in order to secure the position of her own son, Tiberius, as heir to the newly found throne. The most shocking accusation against Livia focuses upon the death of Augustus himself. In the last few months before he died, Augustus is believed to have suspected the invisible hand of Livia in securing the path to the throne. Augustus made a secret visit to Planasia where his last surviving grandson, Agrippa Postumus had been sent into exile by Augustus years before. Livia may have suspected that Augustus was about to be reinstated Agrippa Postumus as a rival to Tiberius or perhaps the preferred heir to the empire. To prevent any such occurrence, Livia is said to have . . .
“smeared with poison some figs that were still on trees from which Augustus was wont to gather the fruit with his own hands; then she ate those that had not been smeared, offering the poisoned ones to him.”

Livia survived her husband Augustus by some 15 years. Her political influence increased considerably under her son’s rule and her bust was set up in the Temple of Alexandria. She was given the title of Julia Augusta and possessed equal authority with that of Tiberius. It is likely that Livia was instrumental in ordering the death of Agrippa Postumus and she clearly engaged in a fierce feud with the wife of Germanicus, Agrippina. Perhaps to counter her growing reputation for ruthlessness, Livia strongly protectedCaligula, the last surviving son of Germanicus, who surely would have been murdered by the ambitious Prefect of the Praetorian Guard – Sejanus. She also saved many senators during this same reign of terror organized by Sejanus under the name of Tiberius. Furthermore, she did much to benefit the children of Rome and helped Roman women with the dowries.

Livia died in 29 AD. Upon her death, the Senate of Rome bestowed upon her all possible honors including ordering the construction of an arch. Tiberius vetoed that order claiming that he himself wanted to construct such a monument, but never did. Tiberius, still very resentful of his mother, also refused to deify her. It was not until Claudius became Emperor when Livia was finally defied in 42 AD. She was of course buried in Augustus’ mausoleum.

Monetary System

Livia as Salvs on AE Dupondius

At the time that Livia served as Empress of Rome, tradition had not yet developed where the portrait of a woman would appear on the coinage. Consequently, the coinage with Latin legends displays the portrait of Livia as a god, similar in fashion as Pompey’s likeness was applied to the portrait of the Roman god Janus on the bronze As issues during the Civil War. Portrait coinage of Livia during her lifetime were minted within the provinces typically with legends in Greek.

Lifetime Issues

Mints: Bithynia, Bosporus, Caria, Corinth, Cilicia, Crete, Egypt, Ionia, Lydia, Macedonia, Mysia, Phrygia, Sicily, Spain, Syritica, Thrace, Zeugitana

Posthumous Issues


Postumus Issues by Tiberius following Livia’s death

Æ Sesterius Carpentum drawn by two mules
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Pietas
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Justitia
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Salvs

Livia as Pietas restored by Titus

Posthumous Issues by Titus following Livia’s death

Æ Dupondius portrayed as Pietas


Augustus 27BC-14AD


First Emperor of Rome27BC-14AD

Born 63 BC – Died 14 AD, age 78

With the defeat of Marc Antony and Cleopatra, in 30 BC, Octavian emerged as the undisputed master of the Roman World. Such a position was briefly attained by his great-uncle Julius Caesar, but for now Octavian had to be sure that his victory would remain a solid one.

Between 30BC and 27 BC, Octavian consolidated his political position in Rome and completely reorganized the Constitution. The Roman system of government had virtually collapsed from its own internal corruption. The Republic of Rome had long since fallen from its republican ideals into a state of near complete disarray. Octavian found himself holding emense political power in the middle of a vast political vacum. Romes very survival now depended upon not merely political and economic reform, but the creativity, determination and action of one man who could make the decisions for a nation in turmoil.

In 30 BC, Octavian was granted tribunician power and in addition to serving as consul, which he held from 31 to 23 BC. Octavian embarked upon his military reforms in 29 BC and the vast wealth acquired throught the plunder of Egypt was used to pay off his troops. In addition, many veterans were given lands to farm and colonize as a means of retirement. Through these measures, the legions were thus reduced from 60 down to 28, while at the same time ensuring that Roman influence in the provinces was maintained. This was accomplished by the creation of a vast supplemental formation of auxiliaries troops, none of which were allowed in Italy.

For his own protection, Octavian created something entirely new in Roman military history – the Praetorian Guard. This elite force was maintained as a special unit whose sole purpose was the protection of his new office of head of state. As the centuries would unfold, this elite corp of troops would play a major role in future political events until it was finally reformed by the future Emperor Diocletian in 286 AD.

Octavian also established a treasury department and the aerarium militare, which was created in order to provide for a better organization of military finances. We also find a complete reform of the monetary system with a standardization of denominations for the first time since early Republican days. Bronze coinage had suffered greatly during the mid to late Republic and in fact no Republican bronze had been issued after about 84 BC, with the brief exception of a small emission during the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey. Octavian’s monetary reform resumed the regular issue of the Roman bronze coinage over which the monetary authority resided locally in Eastern Cities and eventually with the Senate (about 18 BC) in the West. The minting of gold and silver were maintained under Octavian’s own personal control. Gold now became a regular part of the Roman monetary system for the first time, whereas the issue of gold was quite infrequent during the Republic.

In 28 BC, Octavian turned to the Senate with an eye toward reforming this institution as well. Armed with the title of Princeps Senatus and with the help of Marcus Agrippa, Octavian conducted a census of the population. This maneuver allowed him to reduced the number of senators to 800. Still an unwieldy number to say the least, but by far a major improvement over the disorganization that had come to prevail. This major political reform was in preparation for the return of certain powers Octavian envisioned for the Senate and the people of Rome.

On January 13th, 27 BC, the Senate of Rome received back its powers to control the state In return, Octavian was granted for 10 years control of Spain, Gaul and Syria, centers of frontier defense, and the appointment of governors. These were thus imperial provinces, and the Senate controlled the remaining portion of the Empire including Italy. This system was seemingly Republican, with the added safeguard that no governor of any province would dare to go against Octavian’ wishes.

Octavian’s reforms therefore recognized that by maintaining the Republican institutions in combination with a strong head of state entrusted with the defense of the Empire, he could ultimately ensure the prosperity of all Roman traditions while allowing Rome to achieve its destined greatness. Indeed, the basic design of such a system still serves as the foundation of many democratic forms of government today.
As Octavian consolidated his power, he shed his role as de facto dictator and eventually transferred to the State, “the free disposal of the Senate and the people.”Four days after this rehibilitation of the Senate, Octavian received a new title,Augustus (loosely meaning revered or worthy of veneration) on January 16th, 27 BC. Octavian therefore became known as Augustus Caesar Octavian. From this period onward, his coinage simply bears the name Augustus. For generations to come, history would always remember Octavian by his new name Augustus. And as for Rome itself, it would be the assumption of this title by all of his successors that provided the means through which Imperial status was transferred from one Emperor to the next. For this reason, the granting of the title Augustus to Octavian in 27 BC marked the birth of the new Imperial age of Rome.

In 25 BC, Augustus married his only child, Julia to his nephew Marcellus. Augustus was clearly grooming Marcellus to be his heir and hoped that this union would produce many grandchildren. Unfortunately, Marcellus died in 23 BC quite suddenly and Augustus’ dreams seemed to vanish. Matters were made worse by Augustus himself becoming severely ill. Many, including himself, believed that he was near death.

In 23 BC, when Augustus was in ill health, he sensed that conspiracies were in the making. Augustus terminated his Consulship in favor of the title “Imperium Maius” and “Tribunicia Potestas”, commonly known as the Tribunican Power, which gave him control over the provinces, the Senate and the state. Augustus later regained his health (although he continued to suffer from epilepsy) with the aid of his private physician, Antonius Musa.

Augustus emerged from this near-death experience with a new quest – to revive Roman religion. He created great temples to Mars and Apollo and ordered the temple of Capitoline Jupiter. In 12 BC, he succeededMarcus Lepidus as Pontifex Maximus, the highest priesthood in Roman religion. The ARVAL BRETHREN were also revived, and the ranks of the Vestal Virgins were filled.

The Rebuilding of Rome

Augustus is certainly known for taking Rome built of brick and transforming it into a city of marble. He built the Forum and the several temples, including the temple of Divus Julius, which was constructed upon the spot of Caesar’s cremation. He also constructed the first permanent theatre in Rome, which he named after his deceased son-in-law – the Theatre of Marcellus. Augustus also supported any wealthy citizen who followed in his path of public works. Most notable were the ever-faithful Marcus Agrippa, who constructed the Pantheon and Marcius Philippus. Even the city was reorganizatized, divided into 14 wards. Police duties were performed by the Urban Cohorts, and order was maintained over the often unruly mobs. Above the Urban Cohorts, however, and above the population, the Senate and, eventually, the Emperors themselves, stood the Praetorian Guards.

Administrative, Legal & Tax Reforms

Augustus embarked on a path of major administrative changes in the spirit of his great uncle Julius Caesar. Reforms were made in finances as well as in the bureaucracy. A host of legal reforms were also introduced covering everything from Treason and bribery to social reforms. The Equestrian Order and Freedmen were brought into the process of government giving birth to the civil system, which endured for the next 500 years. The provincial reforms instituted by Augustus included a new tax system.

Social & Moral Reforms

Silver Denarius of Augustus Emphasing Family
Julia and her two sons Gaius and Lucius

Augustus was also given the title of Pater Patriae, which he used to institute moral and social reforms. Augustus began to stress the importance of the Roman family and above all the institution of marraige. In 18 BC, he introduced the lex Julia de adultenis, which punished adultery, and the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus, which required bachelors to marry. He also required the remarriage of the widows, with the only exception neing granted to Antonia, his neice. Thus, the social and moral reforms introduced by Augustus not merely honored family life, but attempted to reverse the liberalism that had surfaced during the corrupt age of the Republic. Indeed, the political corruption had led to a state of corruption of morals in general.

Expanding the Empire

Augustus was also very concerned with the preservation of the Empire and its frontiers. He strengthened Roman government in both Spain and Gaul and embarked on a project of urbanization, much of which is still evident today in the runins throughout Europe. All of Augustus’ ambitions for expanding the frontier was not achieved. While Germany was occupied by the Romans, Augustus had hoped that the region could be pacified and ultimately colonized under the Empire. However, in 9 AD, the general Quintillius Varus was completely annihilated with his legions by Arminius and the Germans in the Teutoburg Forest. Any hopes Augustus may have had for the conquest of Germany were lost. The Roman frontier was then a policy of maintaining the natural border of the Danube.

In his new conquest of Egypt, Augustus had reorganized its borders. In 20 BC, Augustus entered into a formal peace with Parthia in the East. The Parthian treaty gave Rome dominion over Armenia. In this way, Augustus sought to create a buffer zone against Parthia by utilizing existing client states in the East-Armenia, Commagene, Cappadocia, Galatia and Syria.

The Search for an Heir

The process of an imperial dynasty was not necessarily planned nor entirely expected given the lack of such a Roman precedent. Suetonius claimed that Augustus considered stepping down twice. Once following the death of Antony and once again following his near-death experience in 23 BC. Nonetheless, Augustus appeared to some extent almost obcessed with finding an heir given the fact that his only child was his daughter Julia. At first, Augustus looked to his nephew/son-in-law, Marcellus, but unfortunately he died in 23 BC. Following the death of Marcellus, Augustus gave his daughter Julia in marriage to his friend Marcus Agrippa. While Agrippa was not eligible for the throne due to his common origin, Augustus did look to his grandchildren from this marraige. Julia bore Agrippa three sons: Gaius, Lucius and Agrippa Posthumus. Following Agrippa’s death in 12 BC, Augustus virtually raised Gaius and Lucius grooming them as his heirs officially adopting them in 17 BC.

With the loss of Agrippa, Augustus has little choice but to turn for administrative help to his wife Livia’s son by her former husband, Tiberius who he also ordered to divorce his wife Vipsania, a daughter of Agrippa, and marry his daughter Julia. However, this union proved to be a disaster and Tiberius chose to retire from public service to Rhodes rather than remain married to Julia. This disappointment was followed by a scandalous affair with Julia becoming involved with numerous men of Rome. Upon discovering this behaviour, possibily with the help of Livia, Augustus banished his daughter in 2 BC where she eventually died in 14 AD.

Lucius died suddenly in 2 AD and the following year Gauis was wounded in battle in the East and died in 3 AD. Agrippa Postumous was banished on sexual charges of rape, which were most likely false. One by one, potential heirs died or were banished leaving Augustus disappointed and heart broken. Faced with no heirs from his Julian bloodline, Augustus had little choice. At the suggestion of Livia, he reluctantly adopted her son, Tiberius by her first husband Tiberius Claudius Nero, who had opposed Augustus during the Civil War. Despite the fact that Augustus and his stepson Tiberius never got along, Tiberius was recalled from his voluntary retirment. In 4 AD, Augustus finally adopted Tiberius as his heir but in turn had Tiberius adoptGermanicus, the son of his brother Drusus by his wife Antonia, who was the daughter of Marc Antony andOctavia – Augustus’ sister.

In 3 AD, Augustus accepted 10 more years of rule. The fact that Tiberius was destined to succeed him became evident in 13 AD, when he was granted full tribunicia potestas and imperium proconsulare. Towards the end of Augustus’ reign, he began to suspect that Livia may have had a hand in the tragic events that had devastated his family. Augustus may have altered his will inserting Agrippa Postumous as joint heir with Tiberius placing his will with the Vestal Virgins.

The Last Year

Augustus may have began to suspect that the bad fortunes of his family were not by chance. Augustus became ill in 14 AD and refused to eat any food unless it was picked by his own hand fearing perhaps that Livia might be poisoning him as well. It is entirely possible that Livia feared that Augustus might remove Tiberius from his will and may have placed poison on the figs in Augustus’ garden. On August 19, 14 AD, the great benevolent Augustus died at Nola. Tiberius, who was on his way to Illyricum, was summoned back to assume the position of Princeps. On the 17th of September, Augustus was deified by the Senate of Rome. His body was cremated and placed in an elaborate tomb, which can still be visited in Rome today. Worshipers would visit his altar for centuries to come until the dawn of Christianity and his portrait would be honored by numerous emperors that followed. In the meantime, Agrippa Postumous was murdered most likely on the orders of Livia. Germanicus would also eventually die 5 years later in 19 AD by means of poison.

Augustus the Man

“I left Rome a city of marble, though I found it a city of bricks.”

Augustus was indeed a practical man. He did not surround himself with great luxuries and instead preferred quite modest furnishings, diet and dress. He lived in a modest palace on the Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum. Although he had a great passion for the people and honesty in politics, the interesting paradox was that he mistrusted the mob and disliked large crowds. These curiously seem to be thr traits of many great men whom history has put forward in times of crisis.

Augustus did have literary aspirations. While most of his writings have not survived, we do have a few things that provide insight into the man called Augustus. One such piece is a letter he wrote to his grandson Gaius demonstrating his deep family devotion. We also have the famous Res Gestae, which lists his great achievements. Augustus also authored an attack on Brutus’ Eulogy of Cato, which was a philosophical treatise and an autobiography totalling 13 books. Augustus also made an effort at writing poetry and tragedy – Sicily, Epiphanus and Ajax. Augustus apparently destroyed Ajax himself.

Monetary System

Monetary Reform

The monetary reform of Augustus was a major change that would forever alter the course of Rome’s monetary history. Bronze coinage, which had virtually caesed to be minted after 84 BC, was restituted. The minting of gold and silver were maintained under Octavian’s own personal control and gold now became a regular part of the Roman monetary system for the first time.

Mints: Rome, Emerita, Caesaraugusta (?), Colonia Patricia (?), Lugdunum, Ephesus, Pergamum

Obverse Legends:



AU Aureus (6.54 grms)
AU Quninarius
AR Cistophorus
AR Denarius (3.54 grms)
AR Quinarius
Æ Sesterius
Æ Dupondius
Æ As
Æ Semis
Æ Quadrans

Posthumous Coinage of

Gold Aureus of Tiberius with the Divine Augustus

The posthumous coinage of Augustus is by far one of the most extensive within the entire Roman series. He was honored by his successors as late as 268 AD by the Emperor Trajan Decius. We also find the image of Augustus used during the Civil War that followed the fall of Nero. Furthermore, Augustus was honored on the tokens struck during the Julio-Claudian period used for numerous events or games.

Monetary System

Mints: Alexandria, Antioch, Arelate, Constantinople, Cyzicus, Heraclea, London, Lugdunum, Nicomedia, Rome, Siscia, Sirmium, Thessalonica, Ticinum, Treveri

Obverse Legends:

Postumous Coinage









by Tiberius

AU Aureus (6.54 grms)
Æ Sesterius
Æ Dupondius
Æ Dupondius (Tarraco, Spain)
Æ As
AR Tetradrachm with Tiberius (Egypt)

by Caligula

AU Aureus (with Caligula)
AR Denarius (Radiate Aug/Caligula)
AR Denarius (Laurel Aug/Caligula)
AR Quinarius (3.54 grms)
Æ Sesterius
Æ Dupondius
Æ As

Civil War

AU Aureus (6.54 grms)
AR Denarius (3.54 grms)

by Titus

Æ Sesterius
Æ Dupondius
Æ As

by Domitian

Æ Sesterius
Æ Dupondius
Æ As

by Nerva

AR Denarius (3.54 grms)
Æ Sesterius
Æ Dupondius
Æ As

by Hadrian

AR Denarius (3.54 grms)

by Trajan

AU Aureus (6.54 grms)

by Trajan Decius

AR Antoninianus

Octavian – 42 BC


born 63 BC – died 14 AD

great-nephew of Julius Caesar

Gaius Octavius Thurinus was born on September 23rd, 63 BC, to Gaius Octavius and Atia, a niece of Julius Caesar by his sister Juia. The family of Octavian had been associated with the bloody affair of proscriptions of Africa. Octavian preferred to distance himself from that reputation and instead looked to his family’s alliance with the Julians. Octavian came under Caesar’s direct influence when he was about 4 years old following his father’s death in 59 BC. While his mother, Atia, raised him with a formal Roman education including philosophy, Caesar influenced him the most during these critical early years. Octavian was educated in rhetoric and studied with Apollodorus of Pergarnum, from whom he learned Greek. Areus, a philosopher, and his sons Dionysius and Nicanor also provided elements of Octavian’ education. Curiously enough, Octavian never quite mastered the Greek language despite enjoying Greek poetry and philosophy. At the age of only 12, Octavian delivered the funeral oration (the laudatio) for his grandmother Julia, Caesar’s sister, in 53 BC.

Suetonius tells us that Octavian matured into a remarkably handsome young man with yellow hair who possessed an elegant graceful gait, but often kept his appearance somewhat less than immaculate noting that his hair could be quite messy at times. He stood only five feet, seven inches tall, or perhaps less, and was quite well proportioned. As Octavian grew older, his teeth became quite decayed.

Physically, Octavian was not particularly strong and he suffered from a variety of complaints throughout his life. He is said to have had a weakness in his left hip and right forefinger. He may have also had a case of ringworm. Throughout his life, Octavian suffered terrible episodes of illness including an abscessed liver, influenza and seasonal complaints due to changes in weather. His worst illness came in 23 BC, when he suffered a near-death experience which ultimately changed his life and the course of Rome itself.

Octavian began his public career entering into the priesthood, which was largely a political position. As Caesar’s military conquests began to rival those of Pompey, Octavian journeyed to Spain to be with his uncle on campaign in 45 BC. The trip to Spain was not particularly easy. Octavian became ill on the trip and managed to survive a shipwreck along the way. To say the least, he was not a glorious sight upon his arrival at Caesar’s camp.

While Octavian may not have instilled unbridled pride on the part of his uncle, Caesar still did not give up on his nephew. Caesar sent Octavian to Apollonia, in Epirus, to study philosophy and the art of war. Octavian took with him his two dearest friends,Marcus Agrippa and Marcus Rufus. While undergoing his studies and military education, he received word of his uncle’s assassination in 44 BC and rushed back to Rome.

Octavian was still quite young, being only 18 years old, when he was declared Caesar’s heir. This event placed Octavian in a mature world where he was now bound by the obligation to avenge the death of his uncle. Upon arriving in Rome, Octavian approached the situation cautiously and wisely – a characteristic that would mark his style of making decisions throughout his life.

Following Caesar’s murder, Marc Antony was in Rome. Antony seized Caesar’s assets and viewed himself as perhaps his heir in spirit, although not by his will. Octavian found Antony unwilling to cooperate and initially refused to relinquish control of Julius Caesar’s property or assets to the young unproven Octavian. This caused Octavian to take a defensive posture against Antony. This led to the unholy alliance at first between Octavian and Cicero, who was Antony’s bitter enemy. The Senate, anxious to alienate what they viewed was the threat from the ambitious Antony, decided to make Octavian a senator and asked his aid in the wars that had begun as a result of the assassination of his great-uncle.

Therefore, at the very beginning of unrest following the death of Caesar, Octavian and Antony were pitted against each other. Octavian, backed by the Senate, defeated Antony’s legions at Mutina during April of 43 BC. This led to Octavian’s troops demands for him to be given the rank and the powers of a consul. The Senate was not pleased with this request in the least. They had hope to use the young Octavian against Antony, whom they viewed as the real threat to their power. Raising Octavian to the rank of consul, introduced another set of problems where Caesar’s true heir might become as powerful as Caesar himself. However, the Senate had little choice. The troops were still very loyal to the memory of Caesar. Finally, a reluctant Senate agreed.

Octavian chose the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus at the time he rose to the rank of consul based upon the fact that he was the true heir of Caesar. Octavian quickly realized that it was still the Senate who represented his true enemy and his confrontation with Antony was a matter of personal ambition and differences. He reached a conclusion that the Senate was indeed attempting to divide the supporters of Caesar by backing Octavian against Antony. Therefore, the logical strategy for Octavian became clear.

Somehow, Octavian had to come to an agreement with Antony if his duty to avenge Caesar’s death would ever be carried out. Octavian then approached Antony in hopes of reaching a truce and perhaps even to join forces. What emerged on November 27th, 43 BC became known as the “Second Triumvirate.” This new alliance became a unified effort between Octavian, Antony and one other supporter of Caesar – Marcus Lepidus. The terms of this new alliance were to divide the Roman Empire into regions of rule. As part of this new triumvirate, Octavian took control of Africa, Sicily and Sardinia.

Octavian’s political status was also greatly enhanced by the fact that Caesar had been elevated to the status of a god. This allowed Octavian to issue coinage advertising his heritage link to the now divine Caesar. Antony held up his part of the bargain and marched against Brutus, Cassius, the leaders of the assassins and corrupt senators of Rome who preferred to be called “Liberators.” At Philippi in 42 BC in the East, Antony defeated the forces of the assassins while Octavian was not present due to poor health.

The victorious Antony was given control of the East as his reward. Octavian worked to strengthen his hold back in Italy realizing that Rome was indeed the true seat of power. It was during this period where Octavian was forced to confront perhaps the most ambitious rival who had stood behind Antony – his wife Fulvia. In 41 BC, the ambitions of Marc Antony’s wife became clear. In her attempt to prevent Octavian from overshadowing her husband, Fulvia convinced her brother-in-law Lucius Antonius to march against Octavian in Italy in what became known as the “Perusine War.” The effort was easily defeated by Octavian and upon Marc Antony learning about what his wife had done without his knowledge, he was furious to say the least. Fulvia became alienated by Antony and died shortly thereafter. With tensions still high, another meeting was called from which the Treaty of Brundisium in 40 BC emerged.

Octavian became involved in a political marriage with Scribonia, a relative by marriage of Sextus Pompey, the son of Pompey the Great. However, Octavian divorced Scribonia and married the beautiful Livia Drusilla, who had been the wife of an enemy,Tiberius Claudius Nero, whom he pardoned in 39 BC and allowed him to return to Rome according to the Treaty of Misenum. Livia was pregnant with Tiberius’ second son when they were married in 39 BC and Livia gave birth 3 months later.

Another meeting of the triumvirate was called in 37 BC and their arrangement was renewed once again according to the Treaty of Tarentum under which Octavian gained the West, Antony the East and Lepidus received Africa. It was at this time that Marc Antony married Octavian’s sister Octavia, from which several children were born, including the respected daughter Antonia.

Octavian still found himself plagued by the notorious Sextus Pompey, who had turned pirate and became known as the “Master of the Mediterranean.” While Sextus had initially came to an agreement with Antony, that truce was no longer necessary after the Treaty of Brundisium in 40 BC. While several attempts at various compromises with Sextus had taken place in 39 BC, the power struggle between Octavian and Sextus began in 38 BC. Marcus Agrippa was sent against Sextus Pompey in 36 BC and Octavian called upon Lepidus to bring his legions from Africa. Sextus was defeated at the battle of Naulochus and Lepidus took part in negotiating the surrender of the pirate forces.

Lepidus was never quite satisfied by his junior status in the triumvirate. He had his forces now on the doorstep of Octavian at his request and the opportunity to perhaps defeat Octavian was too much to ignore. However, despite the size of his forces, Lepidus’ ill-planned revolt collapsed. He was stripped of all titles and powers and of course his legions. Octavian, allowed him to retain the title of Pontifex Maximus and sent him into exile at Circeii. This left the Roman Empire divided between only Octavian and Antony.

Octavian emerged from these conquests stronger than ever taking the title of Imperator. He then began a campaign in Illyricum and Dalmatia from 35 to 33 BC. Octavian’s success allowed him to declare to the people of Rome that their frontiers were at last safe and secure. Octavian’s strategy was to enhance his own popularity in order to gain enough support to move against Antony.

While Antony had been married to Octavia since 37 BC, his heart was truly captured by the intriguing and scheming Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Cleopatra’s great love affair with Marc Antony has been the romantic story of all time. But behind the flesh and romance, Cleopatra was a cunning woman who was not beyond marrying anyone if it brought her closer to her goal of restoring Egypt to the grandeur of ancient times. Marc Antony was manipulated by Cleopatra and began to give her provinces of Rome as gifts. Octavian finally read Antony’s will in which he expressed his love for Egypt, not Rome. That was the final straw that Octavian needed.

In October of 32 BC, the Western provinces declared their allegiance to Octavian and Antony held the East, a classic division in culture that would always be ever present throughout the history of the Roman Empire. Both sides began to prepare for the inevitable war, which finally came on September 2nd, 31 BC. The Battle of Actium was fought off the west coast of Greece, with Octavian facing Antony and Cleopatra. Once again, it was the brilliant command of Marcus Agrippa, which won the day propelling Octavian as the new master over the Roman world. Antony and Cleopatra fled to Egypt and Octavian took his time in pursuing them to Egypt for the final confrontation.

Gold Aureus announcing Conquest of Egypt

Cleopatra attempted to negotiate a deal with Octavian, but he would not fall for her charms. Antony and Cleopatra then committed suicide thus bringing to an end perhaps the most celebrated love affair of all time. Octavian then conquered Egypt in 30 BC and generally pacified the East along the lines begun by Antony. His victory was recorded for posterity on a rare issue of gold and silver coinage showing a crocodile with the inscription “AEGVPT CAPTA” on the reverse with his portrait displayed on the obverse.

Octavian also executed Marc Antony’s son, Marc Antony Junior at Alexandria. He allowed a daughter of Antony and Cleopatra to live and she eventually married King Juba II. As forCaesarion, son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar born in 47 BC, he too was executed at Alexandria in 30 BC. Thus, Octavian emerged as the undisputed master of the Roman Empire at the age of thirty-three.

Monetary System

Silver Denarius of Octavian

The monetary system as it was known had been completely changed. Bronze coinage, which had all but vanished from the monetary system since 84 BC, was reintroduced. Additional reforms to the monetary system were made including the introduction of gold coinage as a regular issue instead of its informal appearance only during war.

Mints: Rome, military moving mints.

Obverse Legends:



AU Aureus (6.54 grams)
AR Cistophorus (3.54 grams)
AR Denarius (3.54 grams)
AR Quinarius (3.54 grams)

with Julius Caesar
AU Aureus (6.54 grams)
AR Denarius (3.54 grams)
Æ Sesterius

with Marc Antony
AU Aureus (6.54 grams)
AR Denarius (3.54 grams)

with Lepidus
AU Aureus (6.54 grams)
AR Denarius (3.54 grams)

Lepidus – 43 BC

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus

Junior partner in the Second Triumvirate
with Octavian and Marc Antony
died 13 BC

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was the son of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus who had been the consul of 78 BC. Lepidus used his family name and influence to his political benefit during the later days of the Republic. In 49 BC, he served as Praetor prior to joining Julius Caesar in the Civil War against the corrupt senate and Pompey the Great. As a reward for his support, Lepidus was given the consulship in 46 BC. In 44 BC, Lepidus was given the governorship of Gallia Narbonensis and Hispania Citerior. Following Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March, 44 BC, Lepidus emerged as one of the most feared men in Roman politics.

Lepidus had apparently been near Rome at the time of the assassination. He immediately allied himself with Marc Antonyhelping to stabilize the city in the chaos that followed. With the aid of Marc Antony, Lepidus assumed the office of Pontifex Maximus which had previously been held by Julius Caesar.

2nd Triumvirate (Antony-Octavian-Lepidus)

In the early days of the Civil War, Marc Antony initially suffered a defeat at the Battle of Mutina. Antony fled to Lepidus and the two gathered together all available legions and marched on Rome. On their way, they were met by Octavian(AUGUSTUS)in northern Italy. It was at that time that the three men formed the Second Triumvirate in October of 43 BC. The Roman world was divided among them and Lepidus retained control of Gallia Narbonensis and Hispania Citerior but also gained Hispania Ulterior. Lepidus then held a second consulship in 42 BC.

Despite these political gains, Lepidus remained very much the junior partner. The true power resided in the hands of Antony and Octavian. Following the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, a new separation of territories was reached. Lepidus lost his European possessions and was granted only Africa in its place. He held these territories until the year 36 BC.

Sextus Pompey, the pirate son of Pompey, was causing havoc on the high seas. In 36 BC, Octavian called upon Lepidus to bring reinforcements to Italy. Lepidus arrived in Sicily with 14 legions and helped to negotiate the surrender of Sextus Pompey’s army. Lepidus was never quite satisfied with his second-rate status to Octavian. With his large force now on Octavian’s doorstep, Lepidus made an attempt to wipe out Octavian. The attempt may have been gallant, but the end result was an easy victory for Octavian. Lepidus was stripped of all his titles with the exception of Pontifex Maximus. Lepidus then was forced to retired to his estate at Circeii. Octavian, who may have simply disliked Lepidus, continued to treat his old partner harshly. Lepidus’ son, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (III), attempted unsuccessfully to murder Octavian in 30 BC. Lepidus Junior was the first would-be assassin of an emperor and the incident only gave Augustus another reason to torment his old partner. Finally, Lepidus died in 13 BC and his final title of Pontifex Maximus was then assumed by Octavian.

Monetary System

Lepidus with Octavian Denarius

Mints: Rome

Obverse Legends:



AU Aureus (6.54 grams)
AU Aureus – with Octavian (6.54 grams)
AR Denarius – with Marc Antony
AR Denarius – with Octavian
AR Quinarius


Domitius Calvinus – 39 BC

Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus

(mid 1st century BC)
supporter of Julius Caesar

Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus was consul in 53 and again in 40 BC. Calvinus was a supporter of Julius Caesar and Octavian (later known as Augustus). He served as a tribune during Caesar’s consulship and then ran for the position himself in 54 BC. In some of the worst election campaigns of the era, Calvinus gained his seat by corrupt methods, which was perhaps par for the course. It was after all, the political corruption of the Senate that eventually led to the fall of the Republic and the Civil War.

It was during the Civil War, when Calvinus chose the side of Caesar against Pompey the Great and the corrupt members of the Senate. As a legate in Thessaly during the Dyrrhachium campaign of 48 BC, Calvinus helped to defeat the forces of Pompey in that region. Following the battle of Pharsalus (48 BC), Caesar ordered him to send two legions as support to Alexandria. This left Calvinus with only one legion and some auxiliaries at his disposal. Despite this weakened force, Calvinus gallantly tried to stop the advance of Pharnaces, the King of the Bosporus, but was beaten at Nicopolis. Following Caesar’s assassination, Calvinus granted his allegiance to Octavian. He was then appointed proconsul of Spain around 40 – 39 BC. Calvinus also campaigned successfully against the Cerretani and was saluted Imperator.

Monetary System

Mints: Military Traveling Mint

Obverse Legend:



AR Denarius (3.54 grams)


Labienus – 39 BC

Quintus Labienus

supporter of Brutus

died circa 39 BC

Quintus Labienus was the son of Titus Labienus who served as the principal lieutenant to Julius Caesar during his conquest of Gaul between 58 – 51 BC. Despite this close relationship with Caesar, Titus supported Pompey during the civil war but died at the battle of Munda. Like his father, Quintus joined Brutus and Cassius in their opposition against Julius Caesar. Quintus was an envoy for Brutus to King Ordes II of Parthia. In 42 BC when Brutus was defeated at the Battle of Philippi, Quintus fled to Parthia seeking to join Ordes II. Two years later, Quintus led a Parthian army along with Pocorus, the king’s son. Together they invaded Roman territory advancing into Syria and eventually Palestine. He managed to capture Apamea and much of Syria with the exception of the city of Tyre. He conquered Judaea and installed Antigones on the throne thereby deposing Hyrcanus, thus leaving him a legacy of having a great impact upon Jewish history. Quintus then marched on Cilicia which was his finest achievement.

Marc Anthony was slow to respond to Quintus’ invasion. It took nearly one year before Antony sent Publius Ventidius to Asia with several legions. Antony’s legions expelled the Parthians from the region and destroyed Labienus’ forces. When Quintus attempted once again to flee to Parthia, he was captured at Cilicia and finally executed.

Monetary System

Silver Denarius

Note: The coinage of Labienus depicts a Parthian horse on the reverse. This eludes to the light cavalry for which Parthia was famous in its day. The legend displays a title PARTHICUS suggesting that he was the victorious ally of Parthia.

Mints: Antioch

Obverse Legend:



AU Aureus (8.04 grams)
AR Denarius (3.66 grams)

Murcus – 40-39 BC

Lucius Staius Murcus

supporter of Brutus

Lucius Staius Murcus was a legate of Julius Caesar in Gaul between 48-46 BC. In 44 BC, he was given the proconsulship of Syria. Following the assassination of Caesar, he was proclaimed Imperator in 43 BC following the surrender of Bassus at Apamea. He then joined the assassins and took command of a fleet under Brutus and Cassius. After the defeat of Brutus’ forces at Philippi, Murcus fled along with many others, including the son of Cicero. They managed to make it to Sicily where they joined the pirate son of Pompey the Great, Sextus. For some reason, Murcus fell out of favor with Sextus and was murdered in 40 or 39 BC.

Monetary System


Obverse Legends:



AR Denarius Bearded hd of Neptune (3.54 grams)


Cleopatra – Queen of Egypt


Lover to Caesar & Marc Antony

Cleopatra VII was of Macedonian descent. Ptolemy was one of the generals of Alexander the Great upon who’s death the Greek Empire was divided yielding Egypt to the house of Ptolemy. This being her heritage, Cleopatra was the eldest daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes, King of Egypt, whom she succeeded as joint ruler with her brothers Ptolemy XIII and XIV.

As a young girl growing up in the palace of Alexandria, Cleopatra learned well the art of court intrigue. She also appears to have developed a loathing for her ambitious brother Ptolemy XIII. In 51 BC, Auletes died, leaving Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII as co-rulers of Egypt. Cleopatra was only 17 years old when she became Queen of the Nile kingdom. Almost immediately, a feud began and with the aid of his mercenary advisors, Ptolemy expelled Cleopatra from the throne. Had he killed his sister perhaps history would have been completely different. But expelling Cleopatra would one day prove fatal not merely to her brother, but also to the political world of Rome.

Ptolemy relied upon such men as Pothinus and Achillas to assume the burden of administration in Alexandria. Cleopatra, in turn, raised an army to counter the forces of Achillas and was about to battle Ptolemy when Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria in October of 48 BC in hot pursuit of Pompey the Great. Instead of confronting Pompey, Caesar was presented with his head as a gift from Ptolemy. This act gravely offended Caesar and the Roman legions. Caesar immediately declared his intention to settle Egyptian affairs as the official representative of Rome.

Cleopatra immediately began to charm Caesar having herself delivered to him in a carpet. Her charm worked and Cleopatra was installed on the throne of Egypt. In the clash with Ptolemy XIII’s army, the great Library of Alexandria went up in flames creating yet another loss to posterity.

Following the death of Ptolemy XIII, Cleopatra became virtual sole ruler of Egypt. She elevated her youngest brother, Ptolemy XIV as her royal consort. But Cleopatra was the true power on the thrown of Egypt. She immediately became a loyal supporter of Julius Caesar.
Cleopatra bore Caesar a son who tradition holds was named Caesarion. Cleopatra then traveled to Rome where she remained in a separate house until Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC. Cleopatra was not popular among the citizens of Rome. In the aftermath of Caesar’s death, she fled back to Egypt. She remained outside of Roman politics until she met Marc Antony in Cilicia. She then worked her charm again and the two became lovers of legendary proportions. More than a mere love story, her association and love affair with Mark Antony has been memorialized in inscriptions and documented by numerous coinage issues baring their portraits conjoined together.

Cleopatra was the chief instigator behind Antony’s attempt to take over the Roman Empire with Egypt becoming the benefactor. This design was made clear by Antony’s actions of handing over Roman provinces to Cleopatra in the form of “gifts.”

In Rome, Octavian anticipated civil war. He began a campaign of propaganda against the Antony and his Egyptian whore, as she became known in Rome. Their open alliance gave him more than enough scandalous material, and in 31BC the conflict erupted into the final battle for control of the Roman world.

Antony was financed by Cleopatra. This immense wealth is evident in the legionary denarii that have survived issued to pay the legions of Antony’s army. But even with such financial support, Antony could not win the battle of ACTIUM. Cleopatra’s premature retreat from the battle had an impact on the outcome. Cleopatra sailed off to Alexandria, where Antony followed as a pandering lover. Trying to salvage her realm, she negotiated with Octavian but to no avail. Antony killed himself. After failing to win Octavian’s affection, Cleopatra joined her lover in one of the most celebrated suicides in history. She died at the age of 39; her desires and ambitions proved the undoing of Marc Antony, the death of the Roman Republic and ensured the supremacy of Augustus and the birth of Imperial Rome. In her death, the line of the Ptolemies that had stretched back to the age of Alexander the Great came to an end. Egypt was seized and became just another Roman province. As for Caesarian, he was reportedly killed by Octavian. Marc Anotony and Cleopatra did leave a heir – a daughter. She was married to Juba II of Mauratania.

Monetary System

Roman Denarius Antony & Cleopatra

Mints: Alexandria

Obverse Legends:



AR Tetradram
AR Denarius

Lucius Antonius – Brother

Lucius Antonius

Silver Denarius Marc & Lucius

Brother of Marc Antony

Lucius Antonius was the youngest brother of Marc Antony and Gaius Antonius. Lucius, as well as other members of his family, had been loyal supporters of Julius Caesar. He even served as aQuaestor in Asia until 49 BC when he took over as Pro Quaestor in charge of the entire province. Lucius was consul in 41 BC when he became a supporter of his brother in his struggle againstOctavian (Augustus) on the instigation of his sister-in-law Fulvia, the former wife of Marc Antony.

Lucius organized unhappy farmers and landowners against Octavian who had been dispossessed by the Second Triumvirate’s unpopular land grants to veterans. Octavian, in an effort to stabilize the political environment, pardoned Lucius in 40 BC and sent him off to a command of Spain. He later served as consul, with Publius Servilus. In reality, Lucius remained an ally of his brother’s first wife, the politically involved Fulvia. This relationship with Fulvia resulted in his nickname Pietas (devoted or loyal).

Monetary System

Mints: Rome


AU Aureus – with Marc Antony (6.54 grams)
AR Denarius – with Marc Antony